Updated at the bottom with Richards' amazing response letter, in which he admits to EATING the mountain lion. We kid you not.
Originally posted at 12 p.m.
OK, headline's a little dramatic.
But so was the reaction of animal-rights activists and California politicians to a now-infamous photo of Dan Richards, commissioner for the California Dept. of Fish and Game, gleefully holding up a dead mountain lion.
Killing mountain lions isn't illegal in Idaho, the blood-red hick state where Richards downed his prey. But that hasn't stopped California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom (and about 40 other Democrats) from calling for Richards' resignation, on the grounds that his “actions do not reflect the values of the people of California.”
Here's the photo of Richards with his 110-pound catch, and the caption that enraged a liberal nation. (Because official wildlife protectors maybe shouldn't have “long-held goals” of killing majestic, rare-ish cat beasts.)
The most embarrassing part is that Richards reportedly had to shell out $7,000 just to get himself tangled up in this mess. Maybe California pols should take a page from Idaho's book — we could be out of this budget hole in no time!
According to the commission's website, Richards is a lifetime member of both the Society for the Conservation of Bighorn Sheep and the National Rifle Association. Huh.
The controversial commissioner was (unsurprisingly) appointed the to Dept. of Fish and Game by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and has so far brushed off his animal-rights haters with a “no comment.” The commentary on the other end, meanwhile, has gotten pretty wild. From the bottom of WON's original post:
“Your joy in killing such a beautiful animal is utterly sad. I respect hunters that kill for the food, not the trophy. Too bad we can't cull the human herd. Your grin would make an AWESOME trophy.”
“Can I kill the human? What a dipshit.”
“This Red Neck should be killed on site!!!! What a guy, what a stupid act, wish he had frozen to death in the frezing cold in Idaho. And blast the Flying B Ranch.”
“What an asswhole you are and I hope you're gonna suffer as much as this poor magnificent animal did!!!!!!! Hope you die in misery”
Etcetera, etcetera. And the backlash is about to go IRL: The hunting-centric news network reports that protesters will be showing up to the commission's next meeting on March 7 in Riverside. They'll likely be met by the equally fervent gun lovers, or at least Bill of Rights lovers, who have been rushing to Richards' defense.
Another day, another PR storm over a Republican jerk who did something jerky. Don't we have some dying species to worry about in our own damn sanctuary?
Highlight of the letter (and probably the year): “We did dine on the Mountain Lion for dinner … contrary to so many erroneous reports.” As if the image of Richards' bloody fangs digging into said ML (proper noun, out of respect) somehow makes the $7,000 hit more wholesome. Using the whole animal, and all that.
Anyway, here's the masterwork in full. Hope you enjoy as much as we did.